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Gesta Romanorum Vol. II (1871)/Of Judgment against Adulterers




A certain knight had a very beautiful castle, upon which two storks built their nest. At the foot of this castle, was a clear fountain, in which the storks were wont to bathe themselves. It happened that the female stork brought forth young, and the male flew about to procure food. Now while he was absent, the female admitted a gallant; and before the return of the male, went down to the fountain to wash herself, in order that the other might perceive no disorder in her appearance. But the knight, often observing this with wonder, closed up the fountain, that the stork might no longer wash or bathe herself. In this dilemma, after meeting her lover, she was obliged to return to her nest; and when the male came, and saw, by various signs, that she had been unfaithful, he flew away, and brought back with him a great multitude of storks, who put the adulterous bird to death, in presence of the knight.


My beloved, the two storks are Christ, and the soul is the spouse of Christ. The knight is the devil; and the fountain, that of confession and repentance. If Christ, at the day of judgment, find us unwashed, i. e. impenitent, he will come with a multitude of angels and put us to death.



Note III.

Tale II. Vol.  II. page 26.

"Of judgment against adulterers"

"The Storke wreker of advouterie," [adultery.]
Chaucer. The Assemblie of Fowles, fol. 235.

"This bird," says Speght, (Gloss, in v.) "breedeth in the chimney-tops of houses, and as it is written of him, if the man or the wife commit adultery, he presently forsaketh the place. And as Aristotle saith, if his female play false, he will, if he can, kill her: or else utterly forsake her. Therefore Chaucer calleth him the wreker of adultery."